Perimeter block, courtyardPerimeter block, infillTower
Figini, Luigi & Gino Pollini | Milan, Italy | 1947-48
Image of Broletto
The tower at the rear of the courtyard seen from the passageway from the street.

ArchitectFigini, Luigi & Gino Pollini
AddressVia Broletto 37
Building TypePerimeter block, courtyard
Perimeter block, infill
Number of DwellingsNA
Date Built1947-48
Dwelling Types1 & 2 br. flats (tower)
No. Floors7
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
stone, concrete, metal windows
Construction TypeR-C frame
Ancillary Servicesoffices

This is one of the most provocative solutions to the problem of adding an infill building to the pattern of perimeter blocks in central Milano. Derived from the traditional Italian "palazzo" building type, this complex presents a flat rather anonymous facade to the street. A narrow passageway leads to an inner court and beyond, a more private giardino. The palazzo consists of a 6 story wall of offices along the street that is the same height as adjacent buildings, continues the line of shops along the street, is and finished in rough-finished travertine, a traditional building material. The office block continues the mass of the zone of buildings defining the perimeter of the block but opens as well to the paved courtyard on the interior of the block. This courtyard can be seen from the street, along an axis that is expressed in the street facade by the use of unequal structural bays. The passageway leads to the entrance of an eleven-story slab/tower facing the courtyard. The other side of the tower opens to a more private garden and, because it is detached from the adjacent buildings is articulated as a freestanding modernist tower. The tower has bank offices on the bottom two levels, apartments on the next eight with two floors at the top for corporate offices. The tower, in contrast to the more planar qualities of the office building, is finished in concrete, glass, and glass block and is an elaborate exercise about the architectonic expression of infill panels in a regular, exposed concrete frame building. Compositionally asymmetrical, the combination of balustrades, recessed glass block walls, strip windows and balconies render both facades wonderfully complex, structurally hierarchical and layered. The erosion of the building surface at the top floors on the garden facade reveals even more depth, a spatial indication of the special rooms here. The north and south flanking office buildings on the courtyard have also express the exposed frame, however, the south-facing facade is equipped with special lattices on the balcony. This diagonal grill is for sun protection but, because it is flush with the building surface and has window-like openings and a transparent quality simultaneously implies a continuation of the building surface facing the courtyard while also revealing the depth of the balcony. The wider bay in the asymmetrical structure of the tower locates the position of the vertical circulation but is off axis to the narrow balcony of the stair/elevator landing which actually marks the center of the facade. The small structural bays, which characterize Rationalist buildings of this era, are conspicuous in Broletto and define a compact typical floor plan with 3 apartments per floor. While there was a history of compositional experimentation with regular frame buildings, in particular the work of Lingeri and Terragni, this group of buildings is perhaps the most complex and interesting of the late Rationalist era.

Vittorio Savi, Luigi Figini e Gino Pollini, Electra, Milano, 1980, pp. 34-5. (exhibit catalogue)

Maurizio Grandi, Attilio Pracchi, Milano, Guide all'architettura Moderna, Zanichelli, Bologna, 1980, pp. 245-49.

Figini e Pollini, Edizioni di Communiá, Milano, 1963, pp. 72-5.

Joseph Rykwert,

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